The University of the Philippines could have easily gone into panic mode after just three games in the UAAP Season 82 Men’s Basketball Tournament.
With a win over the FEU Tamaraws followed by a reality check of a loss to the UST Growling Tigers, the onus was on State U to prove their mettle against the Adamson Soaring Falcons. And Bo Perasol’s men did so in stunning fashion.
The Fighting Maroons trailed by 25-41 at halftime, but rallied in the next two quarters. They then forced overtime thanks to Javi Gomez de Liano’s three that knotted the game at 73-73.
As if those setbacks weren’t enough, though, the Fighting Maroons were forced to enact an 8-0 run capped off by Bright Akhuetie’s charities to overturn a 75-82 deficit and ultimately win, 83-82.
“I mean, I’ll take the win.
“We went all-out, [though] we slacked off during the first half. Good thing we stayed composed and just kept going. We played together,” said Juan Gomez de Liano.
“I really believe that we have it in us, that kind of character. We just have to squeeze it. We just have to find a way to get it,” added Perasol.
The All-UAAP team member contributed 12 points, five rebounds and four assists in 28:24 minutes of action.
With a team that has him, his sibling Javi, Akhuetie, and Kobe Paras and Ricci Rivero, there are concerns that the team might self-destruct with that much talent in it. But the UP junior says that it’s a non-issue.
“Chemistry’s been going great,” insisted the 19-year-old combo guard. “We have practice every day, and we’ve been together on and off the court, so I think it’s about time we know our spots, where we’re gonna be, and just trying to make the extra pass for our teammates.
“It’s not a problem at all.”
Among the players mentioned, Paras was finally making his debut in the UP jersey in the UAAP. His presence helped propel State U with his 20 markers and six boards. And for that, the third-year cager was happy to see his comrade in action.
“I’m glad Kobe is back. You could see how much he contributed offensively and defensively. I’m just really happy he’s back,” he said.
“His leadership uplifted our spirits.”
There will still be more tests for Gomez de Liano and the rest of the Fighting Maroons this year. One thing is for sure, though — these type of games will just make them tighter as a unit.
“We’re trying to build something and I think that we have put in one building block right now in our team,” Perasol said.